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26th December Current Affairs

Data on polluted rivers

(GS-III: Environment Conservation)

In News:

The number of polluted stretches in India’s rivers has fallen from 351 in 2018 to 311 in 2022 though the number of most polluted stretches is practically unchanged, according to a report from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

Details:

No change/ slight change in the Priority I & II category of polluted river stretches indicates that further stringent actions are required for control of organic pollution from various point sources of pollution including the development of infrastructure and its proper operation for treatment of wastewater before discharge into recipient water bodies.

Reason for the high pollution level in India’s rivers:

Point source pollution: (pollution entering the river through pipes, channels, etc., from a source such as industry)

Industrial Pollution

Non-point source pollution: (pollution entering the waterways is accumulative)

Faulty planning:

  • Lack of utilization of funds
  • Delay in Projects

Lack of proper maintenance

Urbanization

Minimum river flow has deteriorated over the years

Sand Dredging

Religious ​and Social ​Practices

Government Measures to clean Indian Rivers:

Namami Ganga Programme: twin objectives of effective abatement of pollution, conservation, and rejuvenation of National River Ganga.

National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG)is a five-tier structure at the national, state, and district levels for prevention, control, and abatement of environmental pollution in river Ganga.

National River Conservation Plan

National Water Monitoring Programme (NWMP)

Vision for 2030: clean rivers, with safe drinking water to all Indians, sustaining and nourishing life, and efficient use of water in irrigation using micro-irrigation techniques.

Amrit Bharat Station Scheme

In News:

Railways plans to modernise 1,000 small stations under Amrit Bharat Station Scheme.

Details:

This is apart from the ambitious plan to revamp 200 big stations under a separate redevelopment programme.

Aim: The aim is to identify developing cities with potential and envisage railway stations as city centres that would link not just various parts of the city but also between different cities in the future.

By: According to need, the divisional railway managers will take a call on modernisation works in a phased manner

The model used: These stations will be redeveloped under what is being internally called the “Khurda model of redevelopment”.

Khurda station in Odisha has been modernised for Rs 4 crore with all contemporary amenities for passengers.

The main structure was renovated, the facade was redone and the number of railway tracks was also increased.

Modernisation of these stations would include improved station approaches to ensure smooth access by widening roads, removal of unwanted structures, properly designed signages, dedicated pedestrian pathways, well-planned parking areas, and improved lighting among others.

Elements of landscaping, green patches and local art and culture should be used to create a pleasant experience for the station users.

Social stock exchange (SSE)

In News:

SEBI has given nod to the National Stock exchange (NSE) for the social stock exchange, to set up a Social Stock Exchange (SSE) as a separate segment of the NSE.

Details:

The government had in her Union Budget speech of 2019-20, proposed the creation of a Social Stock Exchange. It then issued a new security ‘Zero Coupon Zero Principal (ZCZP)’. This year in July, SEBI notified rules for SSE.

Currently, the regulations have prescribed the minimum issue size as ₹1 crore and the minimum application size for subscription at ₹2 lakhs. Subscription to the ZCZP would be like a philanthropic donation

As per the SEBI:

  • Social Stock Exchange may be constituted as a separate segment under the existing stock exchanges.
  • A social enterprise may be eligible for onboarding on SSE if it demonstrates that social intent and impact are its primary goals and it reports such impact.
  • This is irrespective of the legal structure of the enterprise.
  • It allows For-Profit Social Enterprises (FPEs) and not-for-profit organizations (NPO) with a social purpose, to raise funds

Examples of SSEs are: Singapore (Impact Investment Exchange), Canada( Social Venture Connexion) and the UK (Social Stock Exchange)

NASA’s Perseverance

In News:

Perseverance Rover Mission ( Under NASA’s Mars Exploration Program), has left a titanium tube containing a rock sample on the surface of Mars.

Details:

It will serve as a backup if Perseverance can’t deliver its samples.

Perseverance is a car-sized Mars rover designed to explore the Jezero crater on Mars as part of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission. It aims to look for signs of past microbial life, prepare for future human exploration and collect samples of rock for a possible return to Earth.

Other Missions on Mars:

  • UAE: Hope
  • China: Tianwen-1
  • ESA: Mars Express and ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter
  • Nasa: Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Odyssey, MAVEN, Curiosity rover
  • India: Mangalyan

Polar bears

In News:

According to a new government assessment, polar bears in Canada’s Western Hudson Bay, an inland sea connected to the Arctic Ocean, are dying at an alarming pace due to climate change.

Background:

According to the researchers, Western Hudson Bay (the region includes Churchill, the town that is known as ‘the Polar Bear Capital of the World’) has witnessed a drop of around 50% in the population of polar bears since the 1980s.

Polar Bears (Ursus maritimus):

About: It is a hyper-carnivorous (animals with over 70% meat diet) species whose native range lies largely within the Arctic Circle. It is the largest extant bear species, as well as the largest extant land carnivore.

Impact of climate change on polar bears: The Arctic Sea ice (which is melting due to rising global temperatures) is crucial to polar bears’ survival as they use it not only to hunt seals (chief food) but also for travelling, mating and resting.

Importance of polar bears: Polar bears are one of the most significant predators in the Arctic region and they keep biological populations in balance.